Posts Tagged ‘goy’

Nations – Hebrew: Goyim

גוים

Goyim or goy in Hebrew means ‘name of a people or nations’

“As for me, this is my covenant with you: you will be the father of many nations”(Genesis 17:4).

Abram’s name was changed to Abraham meaning ‘father of many nations.’  Though ‘gentile’ can mean ‘pagan,’ its specific meaning must be determined through context.  Abraham did not become the ‘father of pagans’ nor should every gentile (non-Jew) be considered pagan.

Goy is used 561 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and refers to peoples and nations generally in a context of geographical or governmental identity.  They have a unique origin and language.  Only twice is goy used with the idea of pagan and seven times it is  [mis]translated as ‘gentile’.

With this understanding, Abraham became the ‘father’ of many geographical peoples with many different origins, languages and governmental identities – the goyim [nations]. Though those living in the nations may have a pagan belief system, but many within those systems would recognize Abraham as their ‘father of  faith’ in the coming redemption for the world.   When they did and do, they were and are the goyim promised to ‘the father of many nations.’  This was the covenant promise given to Avraham by El Shaddai.

“The children fought with each other inside her so much that she said, “If it’s going to be like this, why go on living?” So she went to inquire of Adonai, who answered her, “There are two nations [goyim]  in your womb. From birth they will be two rival peoples. One of these peoples will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:22-23). 

The Hebrew word for two ‘nations’ is goyim.  Two goyim fight in Rebecca’s womb – not two pagans or two gentiles.  Two nations.  From these two nations came the Edomites from Esau and the Israelites from Jacob. The two nations would war regarding the promised ‘seed.’

“Therefore, observe them; and follow them; for then all peoples [goyim] will see you as having wisdom and understanding. When they hear of all these laws, they will say, ‘This great nation [goy] is surely a wise and understanding people” (Deuteronomy 4:32). 

Obedience to God’s commands would lead to the goyim to recognize Isra’el as a wise and understanding goy with an Elohim who is nothing like the pagan gods within the goyim.  

““Do not learn the ways of the nations [goyim] or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations [goyim] are terrified by them” (Jeremiah 10:2). 

Jeremiah tells Isra’el not to learn the ways of the nations.  Of course, the ways of the nations in this instance are definitely not God’s ways and could be considered pagan or holding to religious beliefs different from the ways of God.  This does not make the nations themselves pagan, but their customs and religious practices.

Ethnos is used for ‘a nation or people’ in the Greek.

“But now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles [ethnos] might come to the obedience that comes from faith…” (Romans 16:26). 

This verse is the evidence of the fulfillment to the promise given to Abraham regarding all nations.  Note that the word ethnos is mistranslated ‘gentiles’ rather than ‘nations.’ 

Pagan, both in the Hebrew and Greek, is a completely different word than goy.

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